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From Flower to Sapling?


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Riverbluff Wargames writes:

You can scratch/scuff up the CD surface to aid in anything sticking to it. CD's are just to slick for most things to adhere to them.


Revision Log
10 December 2007page first published

2,530 hits since 10 Dec 2007
©1994-2014 Bill Armintrout
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I saw these "fall foliage" plastic flowers on sale (50% off the marked price), and I thought - bushes! These would make great bushes for the wargaming tabletop!

Plastic flowers

(No, I have no idea what they're supposed to be. All the label says is that they're made in China, by way of New Jersey. I spotted four colors - purple, lavender, orange and yellow.)

When I got them home, I realized that I'd got the scale wrong - in 28mm, they were too big for bushes, but not bad for small trees. Maybe fantasy or sci-fi trees, depending on how picky you are about your vegetation.

For my trial build, I used some 28mm figures to determine how high I wanted my tree's trunk to be (I wanted "normal" figures to be able to fit under the branches), then I bent the stem, snipped the excess off with wire clippers, and epoxied the flower to a spare CD.

Epoxied to a CD

(The whitish smear on the CD is from my first, failed, attempt to glue it down with superglue...)

I gave the epoxy 24 hours to cure, then applied a layer of DAS clay to the base to build up a bit of "earth" around the tree. I'm still new to working with this clay, which seems to be a combination of clay and paper mache. It leaves a clay powder crust on your fingers and everything it touches, but otherwise is easy to use - just like any other clay.

Brick of DAS clay

I started by making a "worm" of clay, circling the base, and working it onto the base. (Keep the CD on a flat surface, or the clay will go through the hole and make a bulge.) Then I added more clay, working outwards - trying to have some natural undulations, but sloping down to the edges of the CD.

The clay was surprisingly heavy when dry - adding to the stability of the base.

The clay is dry

Again I waited a day for everything to dry, then I ran a rough file along the edges to remove any overflowing bits of clay. This is when I noticed that the clay really wasn't "grasping" the CD very well.

I also realized that I should have primed the CD before starting construction. Now, since I wanted the CD to be brown rather than clear, I would end up repainting the entire base. (The clay was already brown, but I couldn't come up with a good color match.)

When the paint was dry to the touch, I ran some watery-type superglue into the cracks between the clay and the CD, and clamped the base down.

Base, painted and clamped

For some reason, the clay acts a lot like plaster with regard to paint - you paint it, it dries, suddenly there are spots you're sure you painted before, you re-paint, more unpainted specs show up, you paint again...

I also painted the "trunk" brown, as well as some of the prominent branches. (The actual color was Regal Realms Tree Trunk.)

Now I wanted to flock the base. (So why did I paint the base brown? I'm thinking ahead to when the base has been in a few games, and the flock starts to wear off... at least there will be a "ground color" under it.) I've gotten rather fond of using Renaissance Ink's "x-fine" flocking gel as an adhesive for ground textures. So I brushed it on, then dipped the base into my tub of flock.

Then a good, heavy spray of a matt sealer to keep the flock in place.

Finished

So that's it! Cheap, quick, simple... maybe passable as a tree in the fall, more useful in a fantasy or a sci-fi environment. (Then again, my buddy says it still looks like a big flower... maybe I just have too much imagination...) grin

When I do this again, I think I'll look for a smaller base (about the same size as the canopy), and I'll prime it brown before starting. And I'll forget the ground "undulations" and just go for flat - seems more playable that way. And the base turned out slightly warped, so next time I'll clamp it down to a flat surface...